This was originally posted to: Guemes Island Ferry Committee

Meeting Notes, 2018-03-30

Meeting Minutes

Call to order

A meeting of Guemes Island Ferry Committee was held at Guemes Church on March 30, 2018. Attendees included Steve Orsini, Allen Bush, Bud Ullman, Sandy McKean. Guests in attendance included Michael Gray.

Approval of minutes

Minutes of the February 26 meeting were read and approved. Minutes of the March 11, 2018 meeting were read and approved with minor corrections.



Unfinished business

We interviewed our 3rd and final candidate to fill the open slot on the GIFC. Michael Gray spoke with us for about 45 minutes. Michael and his wife Joanne live on west beach. They have coming to Guemes since Joanne was a child, but have become full time residents in the last year. Michael has been following ferry events, documents,and meeting for some time, and was well steeped on the subject.

There was much discussion about how the “ALL-Island” meeting scheduled for tomorrow 3/31 should play out. It was determined that Bud would give the attendees an update of what the GIFC knows at this point. That will be followed by a “Re-fit the Guemes” presentation by Glen Veal. An extended Q&A session will follow. (See 3/31/18 update notes attached.)

New Business




Action Items

Publish GIFC minutes on Linetime, GICCA website, and “What’s up Guemes” – Sandy


· On March 26, 2018, Bud met with David Walde and Keith Elefson of Skagit County Public Works to discuss the Guemes ferry parking lot. A few of the points Bud took away are:

· The County feels obligated to improve the fence on the north side of the parking lot. The County committed to particular landowners to do this some time ago.

· The County is considering improving the parking lot, probably with asphalt, for reasons of ease of maintenance, stormwater treatment, and aesthetics

Page 2

· Public Works intends to hold a hearing in mid-May, with a 30% complete design, as part of its decision about whether to proceed.

· Public Works will need to initiate an application for a permit under the Shoreline Management Act, a 9 month process. Public works might begin this process before the mid-May hearing, while Public Works develops the 30% design.


The meeting was adjourned about 10:00 pm

Sandy McKean

Note taker


March 28, 2018


In the last several years the cost of maintaining the Guemes has been going up. Much of the expense is being paid from the County Road Fund.

The GIFC and others recommended ways to reduce expenses. Those have not been adopted.

The costs continue to escalate to the point where the Board of County Commissioners (“the BOCC”) felt strongly that the Ferry was taking up too much of the Road Fund and something had  to change.


In 2010 the County contracted with Marine Survey LLC (Darrel Boyes) for a “Condition and Valuation Survey.” The Survey determined the boat was in “overall good condition” with some important exceptions. Of which some capital improvements have been made in subsequent vessel haulouts

In 2013 the County contracted with the Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) for a study to determine the best course of action.

EBDG presented several options and determined that the most cost effective was to replace the Guemes with a 26 car vessel at an estimated cost of $8.4 million.

In 2017 the County agreed with the statewide County Road Administration Board (“CRAB”) to likely have CRAB fund up to 30% to 50% of the cost of a new boat, up to $20M. CRAB’s rules require that the grant recipient County have “skin in the game” such that the CRAB money only pays for up to 50% of the new boat.

CRAB’s rules require that a Ferry District be formed if the project is to qualify for 50% of the project funding. The District may or may not impose a property tax. To qualify for 30%, no

Ferry District is required. The County expressed the expectation that with CRAB funding under its belt and a demonstrable boat design, other funders would support the project.

Also, in 2017 the County contracted with Glosten to recommend a design for a replacement boat. And the County contracted with PFM Financial Advisors to develop a financial plan for the CRAB application.

Glosten presented 5 alternatives. Glosten relied on County-wide growth projections to inform the size of the boat in its proposals. The County eventually submitted to CRAB a proposed design and funding for a 32-car, allelectric, and possibly the hybrid-electric, boat. The price is roughly $26M.

CRAB required a 30% design and a articulated funding program by December 31, 2017. The

County and Glosten met this date. The submitted materials are on Linetime.

Also in 2017 Glen Veal began development of an alternative, refurbishing the Guemes at much less cost. We will hear about this from Glen later today.


So the project is proceeding on the 32-car, $26M, all-electric, or perhaps hybrid-electric, basis. The County’s original funding plan included the usual revenue from the fare box, motor vehicle fuel tax fund, and other annual sources. It also included:

$250K annually from a $2/ticket surcharge.

$250K annually from a Guemes-only property tax.

Acknowledgement that these revenue sources still fall far short of financing the boat, so other yet-to-be-identified sources will have to be found. The idea is that once the design is clear and CRAB has committed $10M, other funders will want to fund the project.

For reasons I don’t know, the County last week issued a new PFM funding plan. It includes: $250K annually from a $2/ticket surcharge.

No property tax.

A $16-18M bond.

The County also proposes to begin the roughly $2/ticket surcharge this May 20. While I have not seen it in County documents, it seems clear to me this is an effort to begin building a fund for whatever the

County decides to do about replacing or refurbishing the Guemes.


It would:

Not involve a property tax as currently drafted, but it could do so.

Be paid by Ferry patrons through an additional ticket surcharge.

My rough calculation of a $17M bond amortized over 40 years at 3.5% would require anadditional $11/ticket surcharge.

If outside funding is found, as hoped, it will reduce the size of that bond.

LET’S NOW THINK ABOUT THE POLITICS, always a murkier undertaking.

The Commissioners are not in lock step with one another:

Commissioner Wesen is not confident the “other funding sources” will be found.

He is reluctant to impose huge fares on Ferry patrons.

The options currently undergoing further study and development are the Glosten electric designs and Glen’s work. However, Glosten’s other non-electric options have not been eliminated. Also, the GIFC requested that Glosten provide a cost estimate for a 28-car boat, and the County says that estimate (not design) will be available next week.

The BOCC has received no persuasive information (other than whatever Glen has said to the BOCC) regarding:

Whether the Island water supply can withstand the projected development.

Whether County-wide development projections are inapplicable to Guemes.

The impacts on gentrification of the Island.

Other reasons (than cost) that a 32-car boat may not be the best


It is all about the roughly $2/ticket surcharge.

Public Hearing on the proposed fare schedule, April 17, 9:00 a.m., Mt. Vernon

County meets with CRAB April 19

Public comment period on the proposed fare schedule ends April 27.


County public meeting on Guemes, April 28.

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